The Liberty ContinuumSubmitted by Séamusín on Fri, 06/27/2014 - 09:50
A Healthy Society
Man is born naked into the world... Isn't that how Murray Rothbard put it? If we look at the world as a subjective reality then we only see the individual and his environment. The rest of humanity is all just another aspect of that environment.
However, when we start to discuss the methods by which society should be organized, our skewed perspective lends us towards ignoring a very pertinent reality. Society is necessarily a collective.
Every attempt to achieve more and more liberty in our lives, is actually an attempt to project a value system, that of free will and just property rights, on each other person in the collective that is society. A society I may add, that has never existed before and never will exist again except in that moment of time which it is measured. Each relationship, each personality, each individual value is entirely unique to that moment.
It would be more accurate to say, Man is born naked into the world where there is already a system by which all members of society govern their relationships with one another.
It is for this reason that an attempt to achieve a utilitarian, moralistic, libertarian Utopian system of government is essentially futile. Not because an institution could never be created by which to govern ourselves in a just and moral way. But because society is in a constant state of transformation, with each new participant in the collective. The method by which we govern our relationships, whether it be law enforced by the nation state, or voluntary community cooperation. Whether it incorporates just property rights theory, or whether it be by hierarchical institution of top down control, it is an agreement by the collective, that these are the terms by which we will live as a collective. It does not matter what shape the systematic arrangement of society takes. What matters is the code of ethics that I choose to accept to govern my own actions, and how my moral outlook effects the environments of those members of society, whom I may influence.
Searching for perfection in a system of government is like searching for perfection in a marriage. That's not how it works. We don't theorize the best way to be or to act towards each other. There is no way to codify it. To make it official. Society is a living and breathing thing. It depends upon the health of its members, the nature of the arrangement, the environment that the relationship exists in. What we believe.
And so, even if we were to arrive at a place in time, where society has accepted a more just and righteous way to arrange itself, a more moral code of law, does that mean we are done? We have succeeded? We have achieved Utopia? What if we were to destroy the nation state? Would that mean that systematic violence and predation would cease to exist?
My own personal truth is that political reality (currently a zero-sum game) is a reflection a sick society. Not an institution for control by the elite, but an agreement by society that we accept an immoral way of behaving towards each other. Just because we may evolve towards a healthier life, does not mean that we have achieved our goal. We must stay fit. We have to nourish ourselves, exercise, meditate and practice. Health is a continuous process. It is not a goal. It is a lifestyle.
This is not an apology for minarchism.
To be clear, i believe the nation state is the single most destructive, and immoral force that has existed on the planet. I have been watching the debate on the daily Paul rage on for months now. It seems advocates on both sides, minarchist and anarchist are not doing a very good job hearing each other. At the heart of the miscommunication is the way interpret the term government and state.
I subscribe to The Conquest Theory of the State. I have not been shown any instance in which a territorial state has formed except by the violent subjugation of the people of that territory by a violent parasite class. To again quote Rothbard, the state is "it is the systematization of the predatory process over a given territory."
This is not what minarchists mean by government.
One of the strongest reasons that the predatory state and the institution of the universal law have become so confused is that the state assumes authority over the rule of law in a society, for the purposes of absolving itself from it. The assumption is that without a state, there can be no set of ethics or rules by which society can organize. The reality is that this is state propaganda and ignorant of the historical realities surrounding the birth of the state. The questions that i would pose to minarchists are simply this:
Do you believe that the law should be applied equally to everyone in a society?
Do you believe I should have the right of self defense against infractions of the law?
Do you believe I have the right to contract for that defense, or organize voluntarily to ensure it?
Do you believe that the state and all of its bureaucrats should be accountable to the law, and subject to punishment and that retribution for their crimes should be demanded of them?
Do you believe that the state should have the authority to demand from me, that which I have a property right in under threat of force?
Do you believe that acting on behalf of the state, absolves the individual from consequences of breaking the law?
Could society develop in a way where adherence to a court system and participation in the victim/criminal justice process was voluntary? Did you know that it has, already, without the state?
My own personal answers to these questions are my terms for an arrangement of society that I find just. It is not what I am subject to now and I accept that. If the minarchist believes that he has the same right to defend himself against violations of the law then i ask, What purpose does the state have?
The consequence of economic incentive without societal health
The most frustrating thing in the world to me, is when I see an argument being dismissed carelessly when the person presenting the argument is quite intelligent and makes a good case. It is not the potential that the argument may be correct that frustrates me, but the unwillingness to recognize that the person presenting the argument has a different way of understanding the whole notion of the @. If everyone saw things the way we did, there would be no disagreements. It is our unwillingness to try and find the validity, "why does this bright and reasonable, intelligent human being feel this way? What does he see that I don't" in each others arguments.
The reason that minarchists take such a fierce position in the debate is because they believe they understand. Instead of assuming that they don't get it, why don't we look at what they DO get.
A purely market based legal system is extremely susceptible to corruption. The term I heard used was neo-feudalism. Without a universal legal framework, all kinds of injustices would be permitted. This is all very legitimate. If we got rid of the nation state tomorrow, what would sweep in and fill the vacuum?
Just as social contract does not protect us from abuse by the state, neither will a lack of social contract protect us from those who have access to wield resources for the purposes of control, both economically and political.
The Liberty Continuum
We cannot rely on the market to provide us with justice. We cannot rely on a political institution dedicated to preserving our liberty. We can only rely on each other. We can only rely on what we as the collective accept as the appropriate way of arranging ourselves. The collective needs each of us to help mold its opinion, and shape its perspective. We owe it to our brothers and sisters to embody the morality of liberty and foster it in whatever shape it takes.
Liberty is not something to achieve. Not an end goal. It is a continuum. It is spiritual.
Liberty is what we can strive for. It is the health of society. It is an active process. The important thing is not that we achieve freedom, but that we are concerned to always move forward on the continuum.
If an anarchist removed himself from.society, he would be an anarchist, but what positive impact would he have on achieving liberty. In order to have individual freedom, we need somebody who will respect it.